Finding Stability

How to Plan a Funeral

Planning a funeral comes with major emotional and financial costs. Find out how to properly plan one so you can honor your loved one.

Planning a funeral is a daunting task, and you may never feel prepared for it, especially when grieving. Knowing a bit about how to plan a funeral, however, can give you the tools you need to get started on this emotionally charged task. Figuring out where to begin and a few other tips can make a world of difference during this challenging time.

Where to Start

If possible, begin planning the funeral before the person has passed away. While this is a heavy topic, it can actually benefit you and your loved one. Talk to your loved one about his wishes and hopes for his funeral. Does he want a big celebration or something more intimate? Does he want a specific song to be played or a certain friend to speak? Getting this information before your loved one passes away not only empowers him during a difficult time but also makes planning easier for you. You’ll know what your loved one wants, and meeting those needs will be a celebration of your time together.

If you aren’t sure how to begin that conversation, talk to your loved one’s doctor or hospice nurse, if applicable. These professionals can be lovely resources that can teach you how to broach the subject while also being emotionally supportive.

Find a Professional

Speaking of professionals, it’s important to find a funeral home that makes you feel comfortable. If possible, choose a funeral home prior to your loved one’s death so you can select options together. If it isn’t possible to choose the funeral home beforehand, take a friend with you to make the decisions. You can feel wracked with grief and simply unable to make decisions in the wake of your loved one’s death. Having a trusted friend by your side will give you the support you need to best honor your loved one.

Know the Costs

According to funeral home comparison site Parting, the average American funeral costs $7,000 to $10,000. While life insurance can certainly contribute to these costs, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the prices. Saving for funeral costs before your loved one needs a service is a wise decision that can keep you out of debt. Many funeral homes have prepayment options where you can not only make major decisions about the funeral together, but you also pay for it ahead of time. This will take financial strain off of you and your family while you grieve the loss of your loved one.

If you aren’t able to save for the funeral ahead of time, and are paying the bills after your loved one’s death, be sure to make every effort not to go into debt. Use life insurance money, along with any money your loved one may have set aside. Resist using a credit card to pay for the funeral if possible, as paying it off every month can be another painful reminder of your loss.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, be sure you have a plan to take care of yourself during the funeral planning and aftermath. Ask close friends to visit and check in on you often. Maintain your regular appointments with a therapist, and ask people for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can also lean on the staff at hospice and the funeral home to help you figure out how to plan a funeral, as this is something they’re more familiar with. This is a difficult road to walk, but you don’t have to go it alone — so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The UVA Cancer Center has resources for financial support. For more information, click below.

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Haley Burress
Haley Burress